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Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Learning from Twitter, Facebook

Lately I’m mostly busy with community functionality of Ogito and I’m trying to take advantage of some intuitions from Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve had Facebook account for some time, but was never an active user. Twitter I never used at all, even though I had some experience with blip, a Polish twitter look-alike. So I opened a twitter account to experience the original thing.

My initial goal was something very close to twitter – or how I imagined it should feel like before actually using it. Low barrier of entry, easy to use, one information stream carrying all the relevant user updates.

After playing with Twitter and reading reactions to Facebook latest redesign, which makes social network look quite similar to its much smaller competitor, my vision is evolving a bit.

In fact I wasn’t disappointed by how easy it was to start using twitter. The application is lighthearted and inviting, also because the community seems to radiate with enthusiasm of the early converts.

On the other hand, and maybe it’s my lack of experience with the app, the updates stream seems overwhelming, difficult to read continuously and unstructured. Figuring a conversation from exchanges of replies is one example when I’m quite lost (stream of given users shows replies he directed at someone, but not the other way round, so it’s hard to understand the context).

Facebook feed was supposedly better. It had intelligence to handle updates (status vs activity reports) differently. It lost this advantage after redesign and maybe this is why so many people hate it.

Given that we will have a lot of non-status related updates, Facebook (as of before redesign) might serve as a better inspiration.

Its latest redesign also suggests a number of points where caution should be applied (I’m basing it mostly on this summary in huffingtonpost): overuse of user thumbs, large fonts and trivial updates, lack of real time view.

Of course, many of the complaints (photos flooding the feed em masse etc.) will be resolved by subsequent fixes.

Search getting fragmented, verticals most likely to fall to… Google

I’m reading an interesting post by John Borthwick.

Search is fragmenting into verticals. In the past year two meaningful verticals have emerged – one is video – the other is real time search.

It’s interesting and for me well, personally encouraging, because one can think of what I do with Ogito as going into vertical search. Kind of real time, too (time sensitive, at least).

There is also a funny episode from a while ago, when AOL thought of itself as an ultimate disruptor (natural-born disruptor?).

It was an interesting argument – heart felt and in the early days of the Internet cycle it seemed credible. The Internet leaders would have the creative DNA and organizational fortitude to withstand further cycles of disruption. Christensen didn’t buy it. He said time and time again disruptive business confuse adjacent innovation for disruptive innovation. They think they are still disrupting when they are just innovating on the same theme that they began with. As a consequence they miss the grass roots challenger – the real disruptor to their business. The company who is disrupting their business doesn’t look relevant to the billion dollar franchise, its often scrappy and unpolished, it looks like a sideline business, and often its business model is TBD.

Rest of the post serves to prove that “real time web” is the next disruptive wave (especially for Google). I though real time web is another Robert Scoble bullshit, because for some time he was the only one that I read hypeing up this theme, but maybe there is something to it after all.

I’m not convinced that there any major reasons for Google not to dominate the new niche, though. They did it with video. And with the blog search, earlier. Real time search companies may still end up like Technorati.

FriendFeed, Internet garbage dump or a gold mine

1) Joseph Weizenbaum, who created psychiatrist simulator called Eliza, dies at 85. WSJ article quotes him saying (link by Valleywag):

The Internet is like one of those garbage dumps outside of Bombay, there are people, most unfortunately, crawling all over it, and maybe they find a bit of aluminum, or perhaps something they call sell. But mainly it’s garbage.

2) Friendfeed, basically an RSS aggregator of person’s online activity with added functionality of comments, becomes the latest Internet hit. Scoble loves it, Duncan Riley at Techcrunch covered it and but didn’t see much point, louisgray replied to him with a blog post titled Duncan Riley Misses the Point of FriendFeed, which gained this comment by Ontario Emperor which i.a. explained why it is so useful to add another layer of commenting possibility to the “artifacts” that we produce:

(…) sometimes it’s not appropriate to comment at the original artifact. For example, one day I tweeted

“@commuter ont i10 eb jammed at euclid. 2 rt lanes clsd @ 4th. vineyard archibald offramps clsd.”

Then I subsequently added a metacomment via FriendFeed:

“i was 10 minutes late for maundy thursday rehearsal. my fault.”

The metacomment wouldn’t have made sense as just another tweet, but it made perfect sense as a metacomment overlaid over the previous artifact.

3) Ability of events in reality to generate “artifacts” is virtual reality is growing fast. These first artifacts can attract reactions, which themselves gain status of artifacts and are reprocessed (aggregated, commented on) further.

4) It reminds me of financial markets, which started with rather simple “artifacts” for real things (e.g. currencies), then built so many virtual layers on top of them, that in the end few people can understand the further chains of abstraction.

5) If financial markets were indication, the social sphere can be expected to generate amazing volume given its original “real” base, at the same time becoming unpredictable and impossible to understand for the majority of people.

6) How can social sphere be understood to be “unpredictable”..? In a way illustrated by recent Sarah Lacy interview and the twitter-enabled audience?


Technorati :

Twitter effect

Keynote interview with Zuckerberg is embarrassing to watch sometimes, but feel free to take a look yourself here (fragment).

There is plenty of commentary of course, about Sarah Lacy putting herself in the spotlight instead of her rather more interesting guest, not knowing her audience, and failing to get a clue even afterwards, but more interesting for me are comments related to twitter.

Bill Thompson:

And yet I was there in another way, listening to and even interacting with some of my friends in the audience, picking up on the vibe in the room and even tuning in later as Sarah Lacy loudly defended herself.

I was there because I was plugged into Twitter, the instant messaging service that lets users send short text messages to anyone who cares to tune in, online or on their mobile phone.

Steve O’Hear:

I think another factor in the keynote’s downfall was the use of Twitter as a so-called ‘back channel’. With keynote attendees able to share live commentary instantly, a negative response can spread like wildfire in a profound way that is very different to what’s possible without such connectivity.

Mark Evans:

What’s particularly fascinating is how quickly the criticism and vitriol started to flow as the interview started to go pear-shaped. While Twitter emerged out of nowhere last year at SXSW as a tool to tell people what was happening, Twitter’s took centre stage again this year to blare out anti-Lacy pronouncements in real-time.

Participants are able to turn event into a discussion forum in real time. Both exciting and scary (when you imagine yourself running the event).


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